Blogging is new form of social remittance from OFWs

By Pete Rahon, PEBA 2011 Chairman

Posted at Nov 25 2011 04:03 PM | Updated as of Nov 26 2011 12:06 AM

Social remittance as a concept is not something new in the Filipino diaspora.  In the 1800’s, the ideas in the novels of Dr. Jose Rizal and the writings from the La Solidaridad by Filipino heroes paved the way for a revolution.

In the 21st century, blogging is the new form of social remittance of Filipinos working and living abroad.  Through their blogs, they are publishing their stories to inspire others, advocate causes, help others and muster support from their readers to help effect change in their own little ways.

For more than 30 years, Filipinos have been in constant motion for greener pastures due to poverty and limited job opportunities in the country.  Today, the unemployment rate is still high at 7.2%, which does not include those who consider themselves underemployed.

Diaspora is more than a phenomenon; it is a necessity when Filipinos migrate to work or reside permanently in the West and other developed countries.

Social remittance was a term coined by sociologist Peggy Levitt in her book "The Transnational Villagers,"published in 2001. She describes it as the ideas, practices, identities and social capital that flow from receiving to sending country communities.

Social remittances are transferred by migrants and refugees through letters and other forms of communication that includes phone, fax, the internet or video. She suggests that social remittance affects family relations, gender roles, class and race identity, and it has a substantial impact on political, economic and religious participation. 

Levitt and Lamba Nieves in their work on "Social Remittances Revisited" criticized  the failure of on-going research on diaspora to recognize how "social remittances are deployed collectively in organizational settings, and their impact on institution building and governance are not well understood. Moreover, much of the research on idea and skill transfers focuses on professional rather than labor migrant.”

With globalization, Filipino migrants are beginning to realize the power of harnessing the potential of social remittance. They are the students pursuing higher education, professionals in white collar jobs or common and ordinary migrant workers doing blue collar jobs. Most of them are out of the country for some economic goals and aspirations. But they continue to think of contributing and giving back not only to their families but of making their motherland a better place to live.

This year, the Pinoy Expat/OFW Blog Awards (PEBA 2011) is geared to recognize these plans and contributions of Filipino bloggers abroad. This year’s theme is dubbed as "Ako'y Magbabalik, Hatid Ko'y Pagbabago." (I Will Return; I Will Bring Change.) As a balikbayan, not only their monetary remittances are invested, but also their social remittance are put to use.
This year’s blog contest will look into narratives about how returning expats and OFWs will make use and share their social remittance or their talents, skills and fortunes to bring change to their families, communities and country. expats and OFW bloggers who will be joining the contest will be required to write a blog entry on the said theme. There is also an ongoing blog contest for OFW supporters to blog about their memorable experiences gained from the homecoming or return of a Balik-bayan family member, relative or friend.
For this year, PEBA opens a new blog search called “PEBA’s Any Blogger, Anywhere” for all Filipinos who write about different topics in recognition of their global contribution for social change and phenomenal presence in blogosphere, be it on the field of advocacy and politics, health and well-being, finance, or  travel among others.

Ayala Malls VIPinoy, a service and perks for overseas Filipinos and OFWs is the biggest sponsor of PEBA 2011. Ayala Malls is providing the Trinoma Activity Center as the venue for its awards nights on December 9, 2011.

The Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards 2011 believes that expats and OFWS should not only be recognized with the economic potential of their dollar remittances, PEBA also values the undervalued if not unvalued worth of their social remittances. This blog event is dedicated as a fitting tribute and appreciation of all expats and Filipino migrant workers of their social remittance through their blogs and photos.